Silver Creek Township
A Brief History
Silver Creek was first settled in 1890 by two different families, Henry Clark and Ole Wick. (There are some differences in the various historical reports.) The first white child born in Silver Creek was Campman Anderson in 1897, although there were Native American families who had been in the area prior to the arrival of White settlers. The number of immigrant families grew slowly until there were about 20 families by 1905. That was the year the first town meeting was held.
The area was initially characterized by logging and fishing along the shore of Lake Superior. In order to come to Silver Creek, one either came by boat or along a trail from Two Harbors. In the wintertime, the mail was carried up and down the North Shore by Chief Bear Grease and his five-dog team. In 1920, the Castle Danger road was completed. Then in 1924-25, Highway 61 came through.
The first school in Silver Creek was founded in 1895. In the early years, it was tough because the students spoke Swedish and the teachers did not, so children were often disciplined for not understanding and sent to the corners, which were much colder in the winter. The first school in Castle Danger was built in 1903 as a one-room log house. A new schoolhouse was erected in 1916, which is now the main part of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. Sunday school was started in 1911 and the current town hall was built in 1914.
Fishing in the area has gone through different stages. First, commercial fishing brought people to the shore. Up until 1944, there were 6 million pounds of fish processed per season from the North Shore. Indeed, “in 1943 there were 240 commercial fishermen along the north shore between Duluth and Grand Marais including Isle Royale . . . Today there are only about 30 commercial and apprentice licenses issues in the entire area from Duluth to the Canadian border” (Betty Lessard, Betty’s Pies Favorite Recipes, p.4) In the 1950s smelting became incredibly popular and Betty’s pies had to stay open 24 hours a day to protect their restaurant and surrounding buildings from fishermen seeking firewood. By the 1970s and 80s the number of smelt were decreasing and so there are not as many fishermen. Still, today in the spring, one can often drive along the lake and see cars parked along Highway 61 and fishermen in the rivers flowing into Lake Superior. In sum, after beginning as a large industry, fishing has become mostly an individual and recreational activity.
The Silver Creek Ladies Aid began in 1911 and continues to this day. In 1976, Silver Creek honored the Bicentennial of the Township with an old-fashioned town picnic.
In general the Township today can be characterized as a rural place where there are many senior citizens, people who are commuting to work outside the Township, and a smaller number of children. The main industry is tourism and there are also quite a few small businesses within the Township’s borders as well.